Oct 5, 2017
An introduction to Kagoshima would be incomplete without telling the story of Lord Nariakira Shimadzu. After all, the far-sighted feudal lord is often credited for his visionary ideas that helped pave the way for the industrialisation of Japan.
But, first, a little background.
The Shimadzu clan had ruled over the Satsuma Domain since the 1600s, and had long prospered from the sugar trade with Amami Oshima, which was ceded by Ryukyu (present day Okinawa) upon its surrender to the Satsuma Domain in 1610. Because of Ryukyu’s prior trading ties with China, the Shimadzu clan leveraged this network and expanded its economic reach. This far-sighted ideology was also what led Lord Nariakira Shimadzu to spearhead trade and amity treaties with the West.
Born in 1809 to the Shimadzu clan, Lord Nariakira Shimadzu received a well-rounded education befitting a future lord. During the course of his studies, he took particular interest in Western culture and technology.
Lord Nariakira Shimadzu has been widely credited for introducing Western technology to Satsuma, including the Iroha-maru, one of the first Western-style ships built in Japan. He also brought about changes to the Satsuma education system by establishing a school for the study of the Dutch language and Western culture. As such, the domain came to be known for its progressive ideals. However, he was also careful to ensure that the students’ Western learning did not interfere with their sense of nationalism.
So, what has all this got to do with Kagoshima?
Well, surprise, surprise: the Satsuma Domain of olde is the Kagoshima of today. With such a fascinating and illustrious history, it’s no wonder the people of Kagoshima bear such pride towards their homeland.
Located on the south-western tip of Kyushu, Kagoshima City is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture and also where you’ll find Mt. Sakurajima, an active stratovolcano. Sakurajima, which translates to “Cherry Blossom Island”, is prone to erupting every so often, tipping clouds of ash across the city. Because of Mt. Sakurajima, Kagoshima is blessed with rich volcanic soil, which contributes to their plenteous produce.
Impressive as Mt. Sakurajima is, however, there is so much more to Kagoshima than a burning mountain. For one, Kagoshima’s produce—from beef to black vinegar—is widely sought after, both in Japan and abroad. In the following pages, you’ll find out more about the produce in Kagoshima and what makes it so special.
Beyond good food and a storied past, Kagoshima is a fascinating city full of surprises at every turn. Flip the page to find out more!
(TEXT Vanessa Tai Photography kojiro sugimoto)